Highlighted by extremely limited releases, big sales, and in-store performances, Record Store Day returns Saturday and many Pennsylvania shops are getting in the spirit with daylong celebrations and promotions.
Record Store Day is like Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve rolled into one daylong celebration for music obsessives.
It began in 2007 as a way to celebrate the culture of the indie record store, right as downloading (legally or otherwise) was enjoying its elongated moment and the rapidly dwindling sales of physical product was happening mostly in big box stores like Best Buy and Walmart.
Highlighted by extremely limited, exclusive releases, big sales, and in-store performances, the annual April event became so popular that a second Record Store Day on Black Friday was added in 2010.
Record Store Day returns for its 17th year on Saturday, and among the exclusive releases this year is a vinyl version of “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” by Berks County native Taylor Swift, limited to 75,000 copies.
While T-Swift likely won’t make it out to, say, CD Exchange in Mohnton, Berks County, Saturday — she’ll be playing before about 75,000 people in Houston — if you’re a music obsessive, you should definitely get out and shop on Record Store Day.
These 10 Pennsylvania record stores are worthy of your patronage. Check each store’s website for details on Record Store Day specials and activities.
A Day in the Life Records, Lancaster
A Day in the Life opened as a standalone shop near downtown Lancaster in 2021. It’s a small yet well-stocked operation, with new and used vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, which are quietly making a comeback. The shop often holds listening parties for new releases (they recently held such events for new offerings from the Cure and Metallica) so it’s worth checking their site to see what’s happening before you plan a visit.
CD Exchange, Mohnton
The CD Exchange is a store dedicated to music lovers that’s been around since 1987. The owners have witnessed the decline and the resurgence of records and are excited about vinyl’s comeback. They have a selection of new and used albums for sale, plus CDs and DVDs. CD Exchange carries audiophile recordings, a type of record specifically recorded to produce a high quality sound. They also repair and sell audio equipment including record cleaning machines.
Double Decker Records, Allentown
The motto of Double Decker Records is “all about the hunt.” With more than 1,000 new records added weekly to its stock of 25,000 albums and 10,000 45s, there’s plenty to hunt through at this Lehigh Valley mainstay. In addition to vinyl, the shop carries used stereo equipment, music memorabilia, and vintage concert t-shirts.
Graham’s Records, Erie
Graham’s Records has a vast selection of old and new vinyl where shoppers always find gems. They do participate in Record Store Day, thoughtfully asking their customers on their Facebook page which titles they’d like ordered. Graham’s does not have a website, but it does have an active Facebook with regular updates about what’s new in the independent store that also carries CDs, cassettes, and DVDs.
InnerGroove Record Store, Monaca
InnerGroove Record Store welcomes old school record heads and newbies to their store and is a community for music lovers of all kinds. Specializing in new and used vinyl, CDs, cassettes, and 8 tracks, they also carry gently used audio equipment.
Long Play Café, Pittsburgh
When buying used vinyl, it’s always wise to take the record out and give it a good once-over for scratches and other damage. At Pittsburgh’s Long Play Café, they take the quality of the used albums they sell very seriously. They deep clean the LP on a special machine, clean and repair covers and inner sleeves, and add a protective outer sleeve so when you check the vinyl over, you’re likely to find the physical album in very good condition. They carry a selection of rock, jazz, hip-hop, indie, psychedelic, blues, and soul. The café serves Italian coffee, and if you hit the store at the right time, you just might catch live music.
Main Street Music, Philadelphia
In a city that has no shortage of great record stores, Main Street Music — a staple of the Manayunk neighborhood since the early 90s — is the go-to place for many vinyl junkies in Philly. Main Street is known for championing up and coming local and national artists, many of whom turn up at the shop for in-store performances. It’s a cozy space, so expect lines on Record Store Day. But the shop’s fairly-priced selection of new and used vinyl is well worth waiting for.
Record Connection, Ephrata
The Record Connection has been a big hit with music lovers in Lancaster County for nearly 40 years thanks to being stocked to the ceiling with new and used vinyl (including 78s) across all genres, used DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs, t-shirts, stereo equipment, and more. The shop has unique special events on occasion, with a September appearance scheduled from Derek Riggs, the artist behind Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie.
A leading record store in PA’s capital region, RecordSmith in Mechanicsburg has a wide selection of vinyl with CDs and memorabilia. The store also hosts live events featuring local musicians. Ahead of this Record Store Day, the store is currently discounting previous RSD items to make room for what they say on Facebook will be their largest selection ever.
Siren Records, Doylestown
Siren Records in Doylestown has a huge inventory of used and new records. They carry more than just rock, rap, and pop, too. You’ll find classical, jazz, holiday, kids, and much more in their racks that you can spend hours and hours flipping through. Siren also carries used CDs and DVDs, plus audio equipment. Don’t miss the “rare” bins up by the register, where you just may score that original copy of the album you’re looking for in good condition.